Alogi: Heresy


These were second-century Christians who overly reacted against Montanism. St. Irenaeus in his book, Against Heresies, already referred to a group who both denied the exterior gifts of the Holy Spirit and refused to recognize St. John’s Gospel. With its emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Paraclete), St. John’s Gospel was a favorite among the Montanists. As a counter reaction, the Alogi denied the authenticity of the Gospel According to St. John and also the Book of Revelation. St. Epiphanius gave them the name, Alogi, meaning “Deniers of the Word” since they also rejected St. John’s presentation of Christ as the Word or Logos. The Alogi denied Christ this title, even though they did not appear to actually deny the doctrine of the Logos itself. As St. Epiphanius wrote: “they themselves seem to believe as we do.” The Alogi claimed that St. John’s Gospel did not agree with the other three Gospels and was false. They also claimed that the Book of Revelation was often unintelligible and in error. As proof, they cited Rev. 2:18 and claimed that there was no Christian church in Thyatira during the late first century. Strangely enough, they further claimed that the heretic, Cerinthus, wrote both Books, even though John’s Gospel was known at the time to have been written against Cerinthus. St. Epiphanius was perplexed over their lack of reason. In a play on words, he used the name “alogi” to also mean “without reason.” Their historical significance rests mainly on the question of Bible criticism rather than in doctrines concerning Christ.

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